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Causes of Hand & Foot Cramps
Cramps can occur in any muscle of the body, including the hands and feet. Cramps in your hand and feet usually occur abruptly and develop quickly. The experience of having them can range from an irritating inconvenience to an extremely painful situation. There are several potential causes of hand and foot cramps, ranging from the benign to symptoms of serious disease.
Hand and foot cramps are involuntary contractions of muscles, during which muscles often contract much more tightly than you could voluntarily contract them. They usually occur abruptly and can be extremely painful. The muscle that is cramping may visibly bulge under the skin and when you touch it, it can feel hard or rigid. Cramps are often associated with muscle spasms.
Your hands or feet may cramp because the muscles in them are overtired. Holding them in an awkward position for too long can strain them. For example, holding your fingers clenched around a pen for a long time can bring on writer's cramp. Overworking muscles with heavy exercise can also cause cramps. Slow and gentle stretching of the hand or foot to ease the contracting muscle is the best way to stop this kind of cramp.
If you have low levels of certain nutrients in your body, this can cause hand and foot cramps. If you have reduced levels of calcium and magnesium, that can bring on cramping. Lack of vitamin D can cause muscle spasms and cramps in your hands and feet. If you experience cramps while dehydrated, especially after exercising, there is a good chance that is what is triggering the muscle contractions. In these cases, correcting the deficiency will stop the cramps from coming back after you stretch out the muscles.
Several diseases include muscle spasms in their symptoms. These spasms can lead to hand and foot cramps. These diseases include kidney failure, hypothyroidism and tetany. Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis can all cause hand and foot spasms, which can in turn trigger cramps. Treating these underlying conditions can help to prevent hand and foot cramps.
Hand and foot cramps can be a side effect of certain medications. Alcoholism is also linked to recurring cramps. If you are pregnant, you may experience occasional hand and foot cramps. Some of the symptoms of ingesting alkaline salts are muscle cramps in the hands or feet.
- Medline PLUS
- New York Times
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Muscle cramps.
- Rao S, Riskowski JL, Hannan MT. Musculoskeletal conditions of the foot and ankle: assessments and treatment options. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2012;26(3):345-68. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2012.05.009
- Lorenzo M. et al. Treatment of nocturnal leg cramps by primary care patients over the age of 60. Family Practice 2018;35(1):29-33. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmx062